I don’t believe that that is the fundamental reason why we are here, just one of the by-products maybe. But there is a whole side to God that we will miss, if we never suffer through something with Christ. We will never experience suffering in heaven. We will never be able to give a sacrifice of praise in heaven, because there is no sacrifice and suffering in heaven. We can’t say we want all of Christ without understanding that suffering is part of that.
I read a blog post by Joni Eareckson Tada today, and saw a side of Christ that we prefer to miss. Joni is a quadriplegic, and explains her suffering with Christ, daily picking up her cross in the following way: “As I’ve practiced taking up my cross – that heavy, hard thing in my life – I have fallen in love with Jesus through a deeper, sweeter, more intimate union with Him, the crucified Christ.”
What I have learned in my short life experience, is that the greater the battle, the sweeter the victory. There is a sublime moment at the end of a battle, that joy that comes in the morning, that moment when you have victory, that you could never feel, if you hadn’t first suffered.
Struggling and wrestling through something, standing after you have done everything to stand, picking up your cross daily. We can’t get the fullness of joy, without first experiencing sorrow. Water tastes really sweet, after a hard game out in the sun. That contentment when you sink into the couch with a cup of coffee at the end of a long, hard day. That sweet moment in the first display of manners that your child shows after working and disciplining them for years. Only going without allows you to have the appreciation of the joy that comes in the morning.
I have really enjoyed the progression of life. If life doesn’t hurt, I don’t grow. I hated winter, I know hate is a strong word, and I use it here purposefully, because that is how strongly I felt about it. Winter is ugly, everything dies, it’s cold and barren. But one winter, I saw the miracle that we need that can only be found in winter. Spring can’t come without winter. Spring bulbs need to freeze for a season so that they can flower in spring. Shrubs and trees need to die back so that we can see where pruning needs to be done. Plants need to die down so that they can lie fallow and rest, so that they can have vigorous fresh growth again in spring.
We would never flower, if we didn’t first suffer.
But God is also merciful. We may need to pick up our crosses daily, but we can’t continuously suffer, it is only for a season. And then Psalm 30:5, weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. 1 Peter 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
I enjoy watching the progression in my life. I have enjoyed the moments post suffering. I have enjoyed the change in my heart, my mind, my character, my understanding as a result of suffering for a little while. Because of this, I don’t want to cover the gray in my hair, I wear my C-section scar and stretch marks with pride, I like the wrinkles around my eyes. They remind me that I have had victories and that I have grown.